Speaking at a private Liberal Party fundraiser in Sydney on Wednesday night, Australia’s second longest serving Prime Minister, John Howard, made clear his unambiguous support for the “Leave” side of the British referendum on staying in the European Union.
Citing Britain’s ongoing loss of sovereignty under the EU bureaucracy, Mr Howard lamented the fact that Britain – who in his opinion gave the world its “most successful form of democracy, the Westminster system” – had abrogated its own sovereignty in favour of the stifling influence of the mandarins of Brussels.
Mr Howard was particularly scathing of those EU structures and red tape that in his opinion had done enormous damage to the causes of free enterprise, trade and agriculture.
Mr Howard expressed his dismay that on many instances Britain was no longer in charge of making its own laws.
Mr Howard was Prime Minister of Australia as leader of the Liberal National Party Coalition from 1996 to 2007. His legacy of controlling borders and his 2001 election catchphrase that “we will decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come” are frequently cited by supporters of Brexit as an example of how a nation, through strict control of its own borders, can enable a popular and generous immigration programme. Australia is one of the world’s most generous immigrant nations per capita, and has a proven policy of “turning back the boats” of people-smugglers, a policy successfully reinstated in 2013 by former PM Tony Abbott.
“I hope I have made myself clear,” said Mr Howard. “I support Brexit”. Mr Howard also made clear that Australia was unlikely to benefit “one way or the other” from the result of the British referendum, and that ultimately the decision was one for the British people alone.
John Howard was speaking in conversation with The Spectator Australia editor Rowan Dean at a fundraiser for the Liberal member for Hume Angus Taylor, who is the Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation.
Australia is currently in the middle of an eight-week election campaign, with voters going to the polls on July 2.